Categories
Apple Hardware

Apple’s Intel Strategy

Apple announced it’s moving from the PowerPC processor over to the Intel platform. Most feel this is a good decision, some have reservations. Regardless Apple left quite a few unanswered questions that really impact how successful this transition will be, and what the ultimate benefit (if any) there is to the end user. I’d like to take a moment and look at a few critical questions:

Will there be 64 bit computing?
Apple with much fanfare introduced the 64 bit G5 processor and everyone talked about how that’s the future of computing. AMD, and Intel have also started producing 64 bit processors. Windows Vista (formerly Longhorn) will ship in both 32 bit and 64 bit flavors as Microsoft believes during it’s lifespan people will start using 64 bit systems. Will Apple even bother adopting 32 bit Intel chips? Or stick with it’s 64 bit strategy? ThinkSecret’s look at the Intel Mac has a nice list of what the processor supports:

PU, VME, DE, PSE, TSC, MSR, PAE, MCE, CX8, APIC, SEP, MTRR, PGE, MCA, CMOV, PAT, PSE36, CLFSH, DS, SCPI, MMX, FXSR, SSE, SEE2, SS, HTT, TM, SSE3, MON, DSCPL, EST, TM2, CX16, and TPR.

What’s not on the list is EM64T. Why wouldn’t Apple ship developers 64bit systems? Intel has been shipping them for a while now. Hyper Threading is available though. It seems strange that Apple hasn’t said anything on it’s 64 bit strategy.

Disk Formats
Apple’s alleged position on the idea of running Windows on a Mac is that they won’t support it, but won’t explicitly block it, though Mac OS X will remain Mac only. But I must question if it would be in Apple’s interests to support Windows a bit more, including re-examining disk format issues. Right now, A Mac can read/write HFS+ (Apple’s disk format), UFS, and FAT32. It can only read NTFS. This is a problem for someone potentially dual booting a system in Mac OS X and Windows. On top of this, the partitioning is also an issue. Apparently Apple’s Boot ROM historically will only will boot off of Apple partitioned drives (such as my disk0 below). Windows will only boot off of FDISK or MBR. So it’s impossible to have a dual boot system using partitions on 1 hard drive. I don’t have a developer Intel-Mac to test this theory on, but I’m rather confident on it.

Robert-Accetturas-Computer:~ robert$ diskutil list
/dev/disk0
   #:                   type name               size      identifier
   0: Apple_partition_scheme                    *74.5 GB  disk0
   1:    Apple_partition_map                    31.5 KB   disk0s1
   2:              Apple_HFS Macintosh HD       74.4 GB   disk0s3
/dev/disk2
   #:                   type name               size      identifier
   0: FDisk_partition_scheme                    *279.5 GB disk2
   1:           Windows_NTFS PC Backup          120.0 GB  disk2s1
   2:             DOS_FAT_32 MAC BACKUP         75.7 GB   disk2s2
   3:             DOS_FAT_32 MAC SCRATCH        83.7 GB   disk2s3

So what should Apple do?

Apple should encourage this behavior. It allows potential Mac converts to transition much more gracefully, and allows them to see the Mac as a much more valuable product. A few things really need to be done here:

  • HFS+ driver for Windows – That’s right, I said it. Apple needs to allow you to access your data on Windows. Adding HFS+ support to Windows 2k, XP, and Vista would be appropriate. The alternative is getting NTFS write support in Mac OS X, which isn’t likely to ever happen.
  • Allow Macs to boot off of MBR partitioned drives (FDisk_partition_scheme as it appears above on OS X) – this would allow you to use 1 drive and boot both HFS+ for OS X, or NTFS for Windows. *Note:* you would need to format the NTFS partition on Windows.

By doing this, the Mac is clearly the better computer. It allows you to use both operating systems fluently. You can create a 10 GB NTFS partition and install Windows XP, then use HFS+ for all your data, and your Mac OS X volume. This would also pave the way for even more top notch Linux support (on the same drive too)

Then Apple’s silver bullet would be a VirtualMachine package, so you can run Windows in parallel with OS X, or multiple instances of OS X, or Linux. This would also aid in the server market. You can run OS X, with it’s infamous stability and excellent interface. But still get to your Windows data and programs if you need. There’s no longer any reason to say No to a Mac.

Hardware Lock in
This is the big question everyone wants to know. Today’s Mac’s are relatively easy to upgrade and repair using stock PC parts. Drives, RAM, most PCI cards (USB, Firewire, most networking cards in particular), etc. There are a few annoyances in Mac hardware today, the first being video cards. Sometimes you can hack the ROM and install Mac ROM and use them. Sometimes you can get a Mac version. Will there be good enough support to allow any AGP or PCI-X graphics card to just work? In theory, using an Intel architecture, the ROM should be the same now, so the issue may just be limited to drivers, so we may get lucky here. Presumably what makes a Mac exclusively a Mac will be it’s motherboard (or a few pieces of silicon and plastic on that motherboard). So anything else should be swappable with PC parts. Will Apple be pushing for more widespread driver support once the Intel Macs start shipping?

So Steve, if you happen to read this, and care to fill us in on Apple’s strategy, I’m sure we would all appreciate it. Apple’s Intel strategy is rather interesting, but it doesn’t quite say if Apple will be bridging the platform gap to allow for smoother transitions between Windows and Mac, or if it’s simply a processor swap.

Categories
Apple Mozilla

Camino Nightlies Rock

My mac mini right now is my primary system as my laptop is down with a bad hard drive (and still on backorder). Typically my PC handles my mail and basic web browsing. So I was still using Camino 0.8.4 until just tonight when I leaped into nightlies. I’m posting just to give a giant thanks to the Camino team for their amazing work on this browser. The only complaint I have right now is the lack of extensions (and that will remain indefinitely due to it’s design). It’s extremely fast (one bounce to launch), looking extremely good, and even fixed some of the ugly stuff I hated about previous versions (like those uber-ugly tabs). The new design is sleek and just perfect.

So once again thanks to everyone who make Camino what it is. If only some of this performance tuning could be brought to Firefox, and especially Thunderbird (which is extremely slow on my mac mini).

Anyway. It’s pure bliss. If you have a Mac, I’d suggest downloading, “installing” (you Mac guys know how great our “Installs” are), and give it a go.

Categories
Apple Mozilla

Apple’s new Mactel’s and UserAgents

Currently UserAgents for the two most popular Mac browsers are as follows:

Safari

This visitor used Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; PPC Mac OS X; en) AppleWebKit/412 (KHTML, like Gecko) Safari/412

Firefox

Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; PPC Mac OS X Mach-O; en-US; rv:1.7.8) Gecko/20050511 Firefox/1.0.4

Does anyone out there know if Apple has switched their developer edition Intel Macs to a different UserAgent yet? I presume it’s simply swapping out PPC with i686.

It would be nice if Apple, or someone from the Safari team [collective look toward David Hyatt] would give an official mention. Or will they do like Windows and not say anything?

It would be nice to know early how this is going to be done. It would allow web developers to start updating log analysis software today so it accurately represents those new systems when it ships (and allows developers to see how much of a market there is for Intel based Macs). Not to mention it allows us to make websites that sniff for the processor type and choose what download the user really needs (rather than force a user to download a larger universal binary).

I’ve yet to see any official mention on the Apple website regarding the UserAgent change and proper detection methods for such purposes.

Categories
Mozilla

It looks like someone is back in the game

It looks like someone has been busy. Mike Homer and Marc Andreessen have been busy.

Macintosh and Firefox versions are under development and will be available soon.

Looks like they still remember their roots.

It’s an interesting concept. I look forward to checking it out in more detail.

Categories
Apple Mozilla

I shall call him mini-me

That’s right folks, the Mac Mini has landed at my house! Part of Geek Christmas (got a Firefox shirt too). In all it’s sexy glory.

Plugged in the mini real quick to take it for a test drive. Rather zippy for such a small package. I need to get a display for my desk now so I can set it up in all it’s glory… and a KVM to go with that.

Overall a quality product by Apple. Later this month the Airport Extreme upgrade for the mini should be available at the Apple Store, so I can take a trip and get it setup for wireless access.

Categories
Apple Google Mozilla Programming

In memoriam, Jef Raskin

In memoriamI noticed this on Google this evening.

He definitely had an impact on my life, and we never even met. If it wasn’t for the Macintosh, I doubt I’d ever have gotten into computing, never which means looked at IT as a career, and never gotten into hacking Mozilla, and perhaps not even web development. Assuming computers were usable enough for the web to come about.

It’s amazing how much a part of my life computing is. If it wasn’t for him. Likely that wouldn’t have happened. So here’s a late post, to a computing hero.

Categories
Apple

Interesting show

Interesting show. Not sure I like the iPod Mini’s to much. Seem to childish, yet still pricey. You can get so much more for an extra $50. If your spending that much already. I just can’t see how someone can justify not getting an iPod, and end up with an iPod Mini. Colors are a bit childish looking IMHO.

The Xserve G5 is to die for, though don’t expect this blog to be hosted on one, anytime soon. That price is also to die for (literally).

The Xgrid technology seems really great. I’m sure that will help push Xserve sales.

There will soon be over 10,000,000 Mac OS X Users… We will be in the pool, in the clubhouse, were taking over!

Categories
Apple

Service Manuals

Looking for Apple Service Manuals (PDF format) for:

Power Mac G5
Aluminum Powerbook

Help appreciated.

Categories
Funny

AOL Bloopers

This is just to great:

From page:
http://www.aim.com/help_faq/starting_out/screennames.adp?aolp=#deleteold

Q: Can I delete one of my old AIM screen names?
A: No, you cannot delete old AIM screen names at this time. However, you can prevent other users from finding one of your screen names by performing the following steps:

Windows: Select the My AIM menu, click My Options, and then click Edit Preferences. After the window appears, click the Controls tab, and click Nothing about me.

Macintosh: Select the Edit menu, and click Preferences. After the window appears, click the Controls tab, and click Nothing about me.

You can also and remove any information from your profile that would lead other users to find your screen name. You can access your profile from My AIM menu on Windows or the People menu on Mac OS. (NOTE: AVOID “WIZARD.” IT’S BASICALLY WINDOWS-ONLY AND IT’S VERY HARD TO TRANSLATE WITHOUT GETTING BURNED AT THE STAKE ALSO AVOID MAC. SAY MACINTOSH OR MAC OS.)

(Emphasis mine.)

Apparently they do think of Mac users. Which is nice.

Unfortunately, nobody edits for the editors.

😀

A+ for quality.

Not sure if this has been noticed before, if it has, I’m sorry. But it’s new for me.

Categories
Apple

1100 Dual 2GHz G5’s

Yummy. Tech Porn. Boy would I like to tap some of that computing power. VT might be the coolest school now that they got a cluster going.

A great quote:

Project started back in February; secret with Dell because of the pricing issues; dealt with vendors individually because bidding wars do not drive the prices down in this case.

I would like to have 1 of those. Just 1. Besides, 1199 is a cooler looking number anyway. What do you say VT? 😉

Edit: Math mistake above 😀 Should be 1099. Damn.